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Republic of bandits

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By Yinka Odumakin

HOW fast a country can degenerate into a failed republic is presently playing out in a Nigeria that is tottering towards the edge, unhinged in the hands of leaders willing to do this without remorse. The same people who were promoting change six years ago and their counterparts under the umbrella, including their soulmates who were pretending to belong to the clergy are all out now with their daggers drawn to murder the country as fast as they could and unless the enlightened world rises in its self-interest. But it might be too late to save Nigeria from one of the worst cataclysms that the world would have witnessed in recent times.

I spoke with the envoy of a superpower country a few days ago with my brother and colleague, Bashorun Akin Osuntokun, and he was tongue-tied at the prospect of his country not being able to turn back one million Nigerians who may storm their border posts if it gets to midnight in the evil recipe the enemies of Nigeria are brewing.

When a country reaches a point when a state governor like Nasir El-Rufai announces openly that he had to go and pay foreign herdsmen who were coming to avenge the killing of their cows in Kaduna with human deaths because he is a Fulani like them and the country is not aware that trouble was already at its door. That was until the same fellow begins to announce to international observers on the eve of elections that the forces he represents would send them back to their countries in body bags if they interfered in Nigerian elections.

In South Africa’s special season of malady, Pieter Botha made a demonic declaration that caught special attention of our Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. In “Beasts of No Nation” which should be the special anthem for the Fulani brotherhood who are disturbing the peace of Nigeria today and are fully lined behind their Boko Haram boys who have ensured that they seized the peace of Nigeria: “This uprising will bring out the beasts in us”.

Even the most fanatical of Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters for the post of President in 2015, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was quoted by Wikileaks to have predicted the precarious path and end the man would lead Nigeria if he had the opportunity to become president. In a leak with diplomats in 2003, he was quoted to have said: “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilisation, ethnic bigot and religious fanatic who if given the chance would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardise Nigeria’s national unity.” The man ate his words when personal ambition made enthroning Buhari President as the only seeming route to realisation of his quest for power.

He has even denied ever making the statement in appeasement of the god in the villa in some possible pacification towards the illusion of 2023. But the internet keeps all the records intact, except you don’t allow your tongue to spew them. One other revelation of this evil season unfolding in Nigeria has been hiding under the umbrella, but with a very warped thinking like his troublers of Nigeria waving the brooms. His name is Isa Yuguda who was governor of Bauchi State. He has been a prominent defender of Fulani atrocities of late, including their rights to illegally use AK-47s “to defend themselves” and harass the rest of us.

Isa Yuguda has alleged that the Fulani people have been neglected and treated poorly in Nigeria. Speaking with journalists in Bauchi on Monday, February 22, Isa Yuguda said: “I think the cattle rearers who have been herding for the past 200 years all over the country cannot just wake up in the morning and all of a sudden become AK-47 killers. And most importantly, the neglect of the Fulani, especially the cattle rearers who are presently giving Nigeria a minimum of one million cattle every day to slaughter and take as beef, their treatment by the Nigerian people have been most unfair.

“Most unfair in the sense that, at the time when Lord Lugard finished conquering Northern Nigeria, they were the only source of revenue. They provided the revenue that jump-started development in terms of monopolising infrastructure in the North, including Benue State where they have been chased out now. They are pastoralists, they are people who provide beef for the country and you can see them as (engaging in) agricultural ventures or animal husbandry. There have been billions and trillions of investments in agriculture, in the forms of subsidies for fertiliser and so on; have you ever heard the Federal Government subsidising pastoralism?

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“What I am saying, in essence, is that the Nigerian state has not been fair to these people. The mindset, especially down South, is that the Fulanis are gun-carrying people. There has been a clamour by senior citizens of this country that we should carry weapons but (when) Governor Mohammed (Bauchi governor) made a remark to that effect, everybody was sentimental. When a senior elder stateman said we should carry guns, where were you guys? Nobody wrote about it until Governor Mohammed spoke about it. These people deserve the right to defend themselves; let us stop being sentimental for God sake.”

The statement by Bala Mohammed he was making reference to was made on Thursday, February 11, to the effect that herdsmen need the AK-47 they carry to protect themselves since the government won’t protect them. Bala Mohammed has received sufficient flaks from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State whose responses should serve as enough food for thought.

Akeredolu who is Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, lambasted the Bauch State governor for justifying Fulani herdsmen carrying guns. Akeredolu described his counterpart governor as an anarchist.

Speaking in Akure, the Ondo State governor, through his Information and Orientation Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, said: “We read with dismay, the outburst in the purported statement by the Bauch State governor. We are persuaded to believe he didn’t make that statement.

“If indeed he made that statement and owns up to its contents, it then means that the Bauchi State government has declared on behalf of the Federal Government, an Executive Order which now allows all Nigerians, herdsmen inclusive, to carry prohibited firearms like assault rifles for self-defence. That is exactly what the governor has done and displayed by his conduct which brazenly depicts that whether other Nigerians like it or not, herdsmen must carry AK-47 for self-defence, while other non-Fulani herdsmen must remain unarmed to be perpetual victims of arms-wielding bandits.

“By that statement, the governor has in one breath, agreed that indeed Fulani herdsmen carry AK-47 and at the same time encouraging all to do likewise. The Bauchi governor has by his conduct and attitude, ushered us into the next level on the path to anarchy.

Conduct and attitude

A person of such disposition and character is not fit for public office. As long as Nigeria’s Constitution remains unchanged, it is still unlawful for any unathourised persons to carry prohibited arms. The statement is most despicable, highly recommended for the dust bin of careless talks.”

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, described as shocking and disappointing the statement credited to Mohammed. Ortom said: “It was shocking that a fellow governor who took the oath to protect and preserve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria took the lead in violating provisions of the same Constitution by calling for lawlessness”.

According to him: “The most shocking part of Governor Bala Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms, saying they have no option than to carry AK-47 because the society and the government are not protecting them”. Ortom added: “I wonder which section of the law the Bauchi State governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.”

The most troubling of these Northern troublers had been Sheikh Gumi who crept in under religion to inflict the most damaging blows on Nigeria on behalf of bandits who identified themselves as Fulani. In one of his beatifications of bandits and big assault on the sensibility of Nigerians, the cleric said of his session with them in the bush: “When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality which turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know.

“There is no excuse for any crime; nothing can justify crime, and they are committing crime, the bandits were forced into criminality. I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality. And this is what we should look at. Let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the things that made them into criminals because we have lived thousands of years without any problems with the nomadic herdsmen. They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.”

According to Gumi, the herdsmen-bandits are engaged in an ethnic war against other peoples, including the sedentary Fulani. The solution, he added, was dialogue. He noted: “It is a complex issue that Nigerians need to understand. The solution is very simple, but it’s not military hardware. The solution is dialogue and teaching. These people are acting with natural instincts, not special knowledge. And they don’t have any ambition or anything.

They don’t have a vision of the future. They are talking about existence; their livelihood was destroyed because of the cattle rustling that was going on for a long time, they are the first victims of it. So, we need to investigate how cattle rustling became a big business in Nigeria and how it affected the socio-cultural behaviour of the nomadic Fulani. They were pushed into criminality.”

I am not so sure if people like Gumi are aware they will face Allah some day as he is a God of judgement and not a Muslim or Christian and whatever we humans decide ourselves to be in His name. Nigeria is presently under the bus and there is nobody locally with responsibility that is ready to pull it out as they have been sold to a sub-national agenda that has no redemptive value but ultimate destruction. Imagine what will happen if non-bandit Nigerians decide to put aside their  civilised way of life and begin to act in this manner.

This bandits republic is not the legacy of Awo, Zik and Balewa who negotiated a federal constitution for us at independence in their full understanding of our multiplicity. To turn all of us to bandits or people at the mercy of their rage will be a tall order. They will be repulsive in their graves.

 

FEEDBACK

Re: Best strategy to fight herdsmen

Sir,

I THINK we have made enough noise about these criminal herdsmen. What we need now is to put in place strategic planning. It is only a fool that will continually be empowering his enemies.

By buying and eating herdsmen’s cow meat, we are empowering them. They will continue to migrate to our land in thousands from wherever because of the law of demand and supply.

A situation where about 1,000 cattle are being slaughtered daily in Lagos, not to talk about other states in the South, will definitely attract more Nigerien, Malian Guinean and Senegalese herdsmen to come here. Not eating  cow meat will cause great havocs to their business. Many will quit while others will be forced to migrate. Sir, when this happens, they will fish out and handover the criminals among them.

However, the greatest problem is if we’re ready to shun beef for a period. Are we ready to eat Eba with stew only? If we can decide on this, fish, goat, snail, rabbit and grass cutter farming will be boosted, most especially poultry.

This will only take just few months. No one will raise his hand against another, yet we will be fighting a life battle for our generation. God bless you for your great works. Thanks.

—Adefisan Stephen

Vanguard News Nigeria

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